Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Persuasion in Academia

Julia Sonneborn
Gallery Books
February 6, 2018

Anne Corey is a 30ish professor at a small liberal arts college in California. She has little to no time for a personal life, teaching a full schedule and trying to get tenure with the publication of an academic work on 19th-century women writers. Without a book contract, Anne is out of a job. If not for her friend, Larry, a colleague and best friend, she would have no life at all. It's the beginning of the year when she discovers that the new president of the college is Adam Martinez, a former classmate at Princeton and ex-fiance. The two dated throughout their university years and only broke up the day before graduation. Anne was feeling pressure from her judgemental father who wants her to be a lawyer, harpy of a sister, and college mentor to skip marriage in favor of a career. The argument was a silly one, but Anne used it to break up with Adam, and he, out of pride, let her do so. She is conflicted, having never really gotten over Adam. Adam is cooly friendly, but the two have little to say to each other. The writer-in-residence at the college for the year is a multi-award winning journalist and novelist who shows an interest in Anne. The two plunge into an affair quickly, but thoughts of Adam are never far from the surface.

By the Book is a thoroughly enjoyable read that gave me lots of laughs and even a few tears. The process of being published is represented by a series of rejection letters that range from hilarious to brutal. My favorite was one stating that her manuscript about 19th-century women writers would be significantly improved by the inclusion of....you guessed it...men. Based on Jane Austen's Persuasion, By the Book is a delightful updating of that classic. Anne's sister, Lauren, turns out to be not such a harpy, as the two sisters bond in shared grief. Larry, Anne's gay colleague, and friend is exceptionally supportive and often hilarious. Anne discovers that "all that glitters is not gold" but will she and Adam have their "happy ever after.?" 

Thanks to Gallery and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars

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